New Zealand’s National Party slips in the polls - Taipei Times
Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 5 News List

New Zealand’s National Party slips in the polls


The rising popularity of New Zealand’s Labour Party in hotly contested elections is making it less likely that the nationalist New Zealand First Party will play kingmaker, poll averages released yesterday showed.

Minor parties often have an outsize role in New Zealand’s German-style proportional representation system, in which a party, or combination of parties, needs 61 of Parliament’s 120 members — usually about 48 percent of the vote — to form a government.

The uncertainty over which combination of parties will decide the next government is worsening an already topsy-turvy election, previously seen as a slam-dunk for the center-right National Party, which has ruled for almost a decade.

Since taking over last month, charismatic Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern has almost single-handedly changed the party’s chances, with her popularity blunting criticism over vague tax plans and tighter immigration policy.

Support for the Labour Party rose to 41.8 percent in opinion polls, nudging ahead of the governing National Party’s 41.1 percent, figures released by media showed.

That put the center-left opposition party closer to being able to form a government with the Green Party, which held steady at around 5.4 percent, and the smaller Maori Party, which posted support of about 1.2 percent.

Alternatively Labour could join forces with New Zealand First, which slipped a little to 7.9 percent and had previously been thought likely to determine which major party governed.

However, if the Green Party falls further and sinks below the 5 percent support threshold for parliament seats, that would put New Zealand First in an even stronger position.

“It is really unusual... it’s all about which pieces land where,” Auckland University political analyst Grant Duncan said. “It’s not entirely clear that New Zealand First will be necessary for either major party to form a government. It’s not entirely clear that the Green Party will be necessary, or even in parliament.”

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